From a young age, Vasco’s mother always fostered a sense of love and appreciation for nature and wildlife in her. Her mother, Mireya Aguas, 66, grew up on the island. For Aguas, harvesting coffee was more of a family pastime. Coffee was only planted on a tiny portion of the land for family consumption, at least until Vasco saw a business opportunity.
Unlike the case with other farms, coffee plants on Las Tres Marias are not arranged in rows or vertical patterns. The setup resembles more of an enchanted coffee forest, which would influence the name of her coffee brand Cafe Embrujo, or enchanted coffee. This “un-organization” allows the plants to grow and expand naturally, absorbing all the volcanic soil rich in nutrients and minerals.
The first cup of coffee that Vasco drank from her beans filled her with an enormous sense of pride. There was a delicate aroma and sweetness caused by the unique acidity of the soil. The surprisingly large harvest was a milestone symbolizing how far she had made it since leaving the mainland. As anticipated, the flavor was not quite what she wanted it to be, but that could be fixed.
Over the last three years, she’s been able to slowly improve her farming techniques and her equipment. Tasks that took her hours to do in the past can now be done by machines in minutes. Roasting the coffee was done in a large pot that had to be mixed manually for hours, now she only has to load an industrial toaster for minutes. Every new harvest is a lesson to improve. For farmers like Vasco, who don’t rely on any type of artificial chemicals, utilizing the Earth’s resources is crucial.
The first harvest took almost eight months; becoming a certified farmer on the island took more than two years, a common issue for any resident who wants to farm in the Galápagos. When Vasco moved to the islands, there were only about three “officially” designated coffee farms and the number has only increased by a handful since then.
Vasco sees herself as part of a movement to make Galápagos the self-sustainable paradise she believes it can be.